North East devolution consultation reaches final stages
Leaders from across the North East have issued their thanks to everyone who has taken part in a consultation into a £4.2bn devolution deal for the region.
A public consultation launched in January inviting residents, businesses and anyone else in the region to submit their views on the historic deal.
The seven local authority areas of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland reached an agreement with Government to transfer significant powers and the huge investment to the North East from London.
People have been taking part in the eight-week consultation, which closes on 23 March, including attending a series of events to have taken place in each council area.
In a joint statement, leaders said: "Across the region we have been impressed by how engaged the public and businesses have been.
"As Leaders across seven areas we have collaborated to get the deal, that the government is 'minded to' agree, and our experiences during the consultation have shown many people getting behind the plans too.
"Colleagues in education, the business world and the voluntary sector can see the huge potential for our region.
"This is an enormous opportunity to have a significantly improved say on how money is spent and how decisions are made for the benefit of the two million people and thousands of businesses in our region.
"Through this deal, the North East will benefit from billions of pounds of investment, and have authority over key decisions around transport, skills, housing, finance and economic development. We have also agreed a seat at the negotiating table for deeper devolution through a 'trailblazer' agreement, which would provide a further jobs and investment boost to the region.
"It is important to us that anyone who lives or works here is able to share their views. Our thanks go to everyone who has provided their feedback, and we would remind anyone who has not yet responded to do so before the consultation closes."
The deal was announced in December 2022, with the consultation launched weeks later. Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, later joined the cross-party group of leaders and mayors at a ceremony at The Baltic in Gateshead to sign the agreement.
The 'trailblazer' negotiations are the process for exploring the extension of devolution in England to discover what further powers and funding could be devolved beyond what existing combined authorities have already secured. Greater Manchester and West Midlands combined authorities are also involved in this process.
The £4.2bn investment package on the table includes:
- An investment fund of £1.4bn, or £48m a year, to support inclusive economic growth and support our regeneration priorities
- An indicative budget of around £1.8bn, or £60m a year, for adult education and skills - to meet local skills priorities and improve opportunities for residents
- A £900m package of investment to transform our transport system, with £563m from the City Regional Sustainable Transport Fund, on top of funding already announced for our buses and metro system
- £69m of investment in housing and regeneration, unlocking sites to bring forward new housing and commercial development
It is expected to create 24,000 extra jobs, deliver 70,000 courses per year to give people the skills to get good jobs, and leverage £5 billion of private sector investment.
The deal does not involve any changes to existing councils.
At the end of the consultation period a report will be brought back to each Cabinet, and a summary of the consultation responses and any proposed submissions on behalf of the councils will be sent to the Secretary of State to consider before laying an order in parliament.
If you would like to take part in the consultation, please do so before 23 March. Details of how to take part can be found at https://www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk/consultations/381/participate.